Measures Against the IUU Fishing Gives Rise to Thai Marine Resources.
Since 2015, Thailand has put tremendous efforts into overhauling its entire fishing industry in order to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in Thailand so as to achieve the sustainability of marine resources. The challenge of overfishing has been comprehensively tackled through a number of effective measures which include the control of fishing gear with high catch capacity, the prohibition of destructive methods of fishing, the seasonal closure of the Gulf of Thailand to allow marine animals to lay eggs, and through limiting the issuance of fishing licenses based on maximum sustainable yields.
After just a few years, these efforts have borne results in the Thai seas. The fishing industry is now reaping benefits from the revival of marine resource diversity, and has a better understanding of the impact of the work done thus far. Here is some of the feedback of the positive results in the fight against IUU fishing.
Mr. Sulaiman Dara-o, President of the Artisanal Fishing Association, Panare District, Pattani Province
“I must admit that the measures taken in combatting IUU fishing have supported us, artisanal fishermen, to make more convenient living. There is more fish now than before. We had jointly organised the horse crab bank, breeding horse crabs, and returning them to the nature, so that we could catch more of them for a living, and we have been doing this for five years. However, we caught only 1-2 kg of horse crabs in return, and each one weighed no more than 200 grams.
After the Thai authorities implemented strong measures against illegal fishing, we were able to catch more crabs, 10 – 20 kg per day that were bigger, and a few of them already weighed more than one kg. Not only that, many other species of aquatic animals began to reappear after being long gone from the sea, such as needle fish weighing more than 10 kg which normally do not come close to the shore. These strict measures have helped to increase the natural food which induced this type of fish to come closer and caught by fishermen for the first time in many years. Moreover, we could catch skipjack weighing 5 kg and tiger prawns, two of them weighing 1 kg which have never been caught before. Today the IUU-tackling measures have really helped fishermen to make a living everyday.”
Mr. Manit Damkul, President of Fisheries Association of Krabi Province
“As for the measures to prevent illegal fishing in the Andaman Sea of Krabi Province, the association has been informing our members and fishermen to prepare themselves for more than 10 years. We did not permit the common use of set bag nets, push nets, trawls, pair trawls, or even anchovy purse seines in the sea of Krabi Province. If any local fisherman violates the rules, punishments will be imposed for misconduct. These include issuing warning notices to notifying the local authorities for an arrest. Stringent measures against illegal fishing also apply to foreign vessels. Therefore, there is no illegal fishing in this area.”
Mr. Damkul also stated that the measures against illegal fishing implemented by the government had resulted in positive impact for the fishermen in Krabi Province. One could observe that the fishermen were able to catch more fish than in the past when they start fishing at noon or afternoon and would come back at noon of the next day. They spent 24 hours on each trip, but the fish could be sold for only a small amount of money, just enough to pay for the fuel and for daily living.
But for now, he stated that the fishermen did not have to leave shore at noon. They could start a trip in the evening and return in the morning at around 7 a.m. They could spend only 12 hours on a trip but catch more prawns, shells, crabs and fish.
The amount each boat caught increased around 10 – 20%. Moreover, they could catch some other types of fish that they rarely caught before. Those included butterfish and gray pomfret, which could be sold at 600 – 700 baht per kg. They could sell more fishes and earn more money for their family everyday.
Ms. Nangnoy Yossundara, Founder of SAVE OUR SEA (SOS)
“We are a group of volunteer divers working collaboratively with the Department of Fisheries in exploring and conserving marine animals for more than 14 years. Before this, we found a lot of trawler waste stuck in coral reefs which could weigh hundreds of kilograms. But after the government took serious action, we rarely found waste, which proved that our action has been successful in preventing the trawlers getting near the coast. As a result, coral reefs have gradually been restored and even flourished. Beyond that, marine life, including yellow-stripe trevally, anchovy, mackerel and grouper previously unspotted, has become more visible. The number of benthic animals is also growing significantly. In the past, we hardly saw benthic animals in Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkhram Provinces where the trawlers were operating. But after the trawlers were halted, benthic animals are increasing in number in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.”
Assist. Prof. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, Ph.D., Associate Dean, Faculty of Fisheries, Kasetsart University
“It is normal that these measures have been effective and enable artisanal fishers to catch more fish. In the past, artisanal fisheries in Thailand accounted for only 10% of total fishing while 20% belonged to fishing vessels of medium-size and 70% to commercial fishing vessels. When the measures to combat IUU fishing entered into force, the large fishing vessels that committed illegal fishing could no longer operate. Consequently, more marine animals survive for the artisanal fishers to catch. Moreover, the Gulf of Thailand ranks as one of the world’s top 17 places that possess special characteristics to help marine animals recover themselves quickly. This is due to its richness in nutritious food and minerals received from 5 main rivers which flow into the Gulf, namely: Mekong, Chao Phraya, Mae Klong, Bang Pakong and Tapi. Therefore, if we continue to enforce these measures to combat IUU fishing and respect the rule of law, within 2 years the population of marine animals in the Gulf of Thailand will certainly recover themselves and be as abundant as 30 years ago.”
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